What is Honor:To do or not to Do?


One of my fondest memories of my recent Goa trip, strangely, is a book I bought from the famous Singbal Bookstore which is located on the Church Square in Panaji ( Panjim), infact even Lonely Planet recommends this place.

I was in my Turkish- writer’s phase and decided to give Honor by Elif Shafak a chance. Since I had read the Forty Rules of Love and enjoyed it.

On the cover it looks like any other oft- written book about immigrants to foreign lands. However, this book grapples with a lot of other fundamental questions which are beautifully weaved into the plot. What is Honour? What are we really protecting ‘this’ for? And most importantly, from whom? Why is ‘honour’ only associated with women?

It is a powerful story set in Turkey and London, which roughly covers three generations. Adem and his wife Pembe immigrate to London from Turkey in search of a good life.  It highlights the differences between the Turkish and Kurdish people. Shafak highlights the question of Identity crisis which is faced by immigrants and even the generations that follow. It follows the lives of these family members which are shattered by an act of a brutal murder.

The protagonist, Iskender, a young seventeen year old is made to choose between honour and love and he ends up murdering his own Mother for the sake of ‘honour’. On finding out that she was having an affair with another man after his father abandons the family he is made to choose since he is the head of the family, being the eldest male in the family.

It makes you question the significance of love and blood ties. Peculiarly, by the end of the book a feeling of allegiance can be associated with Iskender and I wanted a happy ending for him, despite his cold blooded act.

Shafak managed to bring out the notion that you can’t hate the sinner; it is the sin that is condemn-able since behind everything there is a reason.

This was a good buy. Nothing is worse than paying for a bad book.

My next post will be about the beautiful Andamans!!